Arthritis is a common form of back pain. An early diagnosis will help greatly in its treatment and cure. As we become older, the joints of the spine degenerate leading to pain and inflammation. The lower back is normally where we begin to feel the pain. The symptoms vary – some feel immobilizing pain, some experience only stiffness and some have no symptoms at all.
The spongy discs that cushion the bones of the vertebrae may degenerate with ageing causing the adjoining vertebrae to press against the disc and bulge outwards. The spinal cord may get pressurized with this bulging outwards into the canal that runs the spinal cord. This narrowing or stenosis of the canal carrying the nerves causes the compression of nerves and pain. Having weak abdomen muscles or being overweight increases the risk of getting back arthritis.
Modifications in lifestyle along with medications will help greatly in the treatment of back arthritis. Here are a few medications available for back arthritis: Ointments, gels and creams available over the counter provide temporary relief for back arthritis. They include remedies containing camphor, menthol, capsaicin and Aspercreme. Anti-inflammatory drugs that are non-steroid like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Gastrointestinal bleeding may be a possible side effect of these drugs. COX-2 inhibitors provide pain relief with a lower risk of gastro-intestinal side effects though some may carry heart risks.
Modifications in your lifestyle can be a great help in making back arthritis more bearable. Strengthening and stretching exercises, swimming and walking improve mobility and help in reducing stiffness. Physical exercises that strengthen back muscles, build endurance and improve blood supply are good for back arthritis. Losing excess weight, applying cold or hot packs eases the strain on the back.
Not all back pain is caused by arthritis of the back. Muscle spasms unrelated to arthritis of the back, kidney, gall bladder and pancreatic problems also cause back pain. It may be related to some other pain, caused by something else. The effective treatment of back arthritis will depend on what is causing it, its severity and whether it is causing pressure on the spinal cord.